The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade celebration is still happening this year.
But, like pretty much every other tradition and institution that has continued in 2020, it will look and feel a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 94th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will air from 9 a.m. to noon November 26 on NBC. While the festivities have historically drawn massive crowds to the streets of Manhattan — there were about 3½ million in-person spectators along the 2½-mile parade route in 2019 — this year all activity will be focused on the Herald Square area of Midtown, and the only way to watch will be on television.
“For New Yorkers who typically see it live and in person, this change for them is that they are going to experience it the same way the rest of the country experiences it,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “But I think for the rest of country, it’s not going to be too different.
“They’re still going to see the balloons. They’re still going to see the floats. They’re still going to see Santa and Broadway and all of these elements that they’re used to seeing every single year. They’re still going to see those things. They might have some differences in that we’re going to see some social distancing. We’re going to have masks, things like that. But it’s still going to be the parade they know and love.”
Viewers will also be able to see a cavalcade of stars: country icon Dolly Parton, soul legend Pati LaBelle, “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks and “Hamilton” Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr. are among the event’s scheduled performers.
In addition, dancers from the New York City Ballet and the casts of Broadway shows “Hamilton,” “Jagged Little Pill,” “Ain’t Too Proud” and “Mean Girls” will perform, marking a return to the spotlight following Broadway’s COVID-caused shutdown in mid-March.
Behind the scenes, parade organizers will be taking plenty of safety precautions, Tercero said.
The 2019 parade had between 8,000 and 10,000 participants including performers, staff and balloon handlers. The workforce this year will be cut by around 70% to less than 2,000 people who will film segments over two days — with some segments filmed Nov. 25 and the majority of the action airing live on Thanksgiving.